CLAMP at Anime Expo 2006

Women in Manga: The Story of CLAMP | Pro Club Bd

Out of Cardcaptor Sakura to xxxholic, the collective known as CLAMP, is responsible for the creation of several acclaimed manga and anime titles. The all-female collective has sold over 100 million books worldwide in the years from their original manga publication in 1987 to November 2007.

CLAMP began in the mid-1980s as Clamp Cluster, an eleven-piece collective that initially released dо̄jinshi before moving on to creating their own work in 1987. The name “CLAMP” is actually a misspelling of the English word “clump”; in connection with “a lump of potatoes”. The group is one of the most notable entities in anime and manga today, exerting immense influence on anime and manga across genres and demographics. That’s how the group was formed.


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CLAMP began with eleven members sometime in the mid-1980s. The exhaustive list of founding members includes O-Kyon, Leeza Sei, Nanao Sei, Mokona, Tsubaki Nekoi, Satsuki Igarashi, Shinya Omi, Soshi Hishika, Tamayo Akiyama, Kazue Nakamori, and Nanase Оhkawa. Of the original eleven, only Mokona, Nekoi, Оhkawa, and Satsuki Igarashi remain.

Distributing work within the group has Nanase Оhkawa as storyboarder, group spokesperson, producer and director. Mokona is CLAMP’s lead character designer and the remaining two are working on backgrounds, but these roles are subject to change depending on the project.

In 1987 the group began work on a fan-manga adaptation of the Rigveda, an ancient Indian collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns and one of the four most authoritative texts of Hindu scriptures – the Shruti. The manga was titled “RG Veda‘ and published in Wings shо̄jo magazine, which ran for ten volumes from 1989 to 1996.

From then on, CLAMP produced a new work almost every year, which appeared in various magazines by Genki, Monthly Asuka, Monthly Shonen Ace, Jump SQ and others; With Tokyo Babylon This was her big break in 1990. In 1996, perhaps CLAMP’s greatest success was created – the Cardcaptor Sakura series, while another CLAMP classic, xxxholicsaw serialization in 2003.

Notable works

  • Cardcaptor Sakura (1996 – 2000; 2016 – )

    The Cardcaptor Sakura series is one of CLAMP’s most outstanding works and is still considered one of the greatest magical girl series in anime and manga to this day. Follow the life of Sakura Kinomoto, a 10-year-old girl who discovers magical powers after accidentally releasing the dangerous Magical Clow Cards into the world. She must go out and get the cards to reseal her fearsome power. The series has over 17 million copies in print and is one of the most acclaimed magical girl series of its time. A continuation of Cardcaptor Sakura series that clear sheet of cards, started publishing in 2016.

  • xxxholic (2003 – 2011)

    The story follows Kimihiro Watanuki, a high school student who can see strange supernatural phenomena known as “ayakashi‘ but they are invisible to everyone else. He stumbles into a wish-granting shop and asks the witch seller to drain his perception ability. She tells him he needs to offer her something of equal value – like she became her personal assistant, housekeeper and part-time cook. xxxHolic has over 13 million copies in print and was the 6th best selling manga in the United States in 2009.

  • chobits (2000 – 2002)

    chobits Set in a reality where Android personal assistants known as “Persocoms” are a common but expensive accessory to one’s life. Hideki Motosuwa is a university student who dreams of getting one but can’t afford it; However, his luck seems to take a turn when he finds an abandoned Persocom which he calls “Chii”. Hideki and the android develop a relationship as the story progresses, and Chii emerges as more than just an ordinary machine.

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Current Members

CLAMP started with eleven members but lost several members in the early stages. By the time RG Veda was in release in 1989, the group had already been reduced to seven members, and by 1993 three more members left the group, leaving the current members who have been active ever since.

  • Nanase Ohkawa

    CLAMP’s director, Nanase Ohkawa, has been active with the group since its inception and has been responsible for writing every single CLAMP manga series ever since. She met Mokona, Igarashi, and Nekoi through a friend of hers who bought Mokona manga. She is responsible for writing, storyboarding, directing, and is also the group’s spokeswoman.

  • Tsubaki Nekoi

    As the group’s co-director, Nekoi’s other responsibilities include applying screentones and correcting the illustrations of CLAMP manga manuscripts.

  • mokona

    Mokona is the main artist of CLAMP. Responsible for art, coloring and composition, she is best known for her fluid and dramatic art style.

  • Satsuki Igarashi

    Igarashi is responsible for testing ideas developed by the group’s storywriter, Ohkawa. She also did the character designs for chobits, and works as a line artist and character designer in addition to coordinating CLAMP productions.


CLAMP is recognized as an influential factor in the manga boom in the West, and the group has been acclaimed by various industry figures for how their work prioritizes characters’ emotions. This was especially true for the Cardcaptor Sakura series, but that’s universal praise for CLAMP work. Funimation President and CEO Gen Fukunaga praised CLAMP as one of the most recognized artist groups in Japan Cardcaptor Sakura won the 2001 Seiun Award for Best Manga.

While the nature of the stories created by the group is wildly diverse in terms of their themes, locations, plot and characters, there is a sense of a cohesive universe when it comes to CLAMP works. This is due to their tendency to loosely recycle certain character traits and themes such as fate and destiny. CLAMP also has a strongly identifiable artistic fingerprint, particularly in the character designs. The collective is not behind the story of Code Geassthey were responsible for creating the character designs.

A recurring element in CLAMP character designs is the loss of an eye in one of the characters, inspired by CLAMP writer and storyboarder Nanase Ohkawa’s poor vision in her right eye. Code Geass Protagonist Lelouch Lamperouge (vi Britannia) does not lose his right eye, instead becoming a vessel for the Geass, which is manifested in Lelouch’s Absolute Obedience ability. Overall, CLAMP is considered one of the most influential manga groups and is largely responsible for the boom in otaku media in the United States and the West in general.

This powerful collective of women has made an incredible impact through their stories, which championed different types of protagonists, explored different types of relationships and catered to a variety of different demographics; from younger girls to older teenagers. In an industry that is generally male-dominated, CLAMP is one of many examples of women in the manga industry pushing the boundaries of the medium and consistently pushing it into unexplored territory.

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